Hi - I am a relative newbie here, but I think I can offer a solution for some of you to the nail problem based on my own experience since I recently started back with CG studies (at the ripe old age of 61). I have problems both with occasional cracks as well as major damage, due mostly to my stubborn insistence on carrying on hazardous (to the nails) hobbies like car repair, woodworking and gardening. I stumbled on this because of a panic situation in December when the entire tip of my RH thumb nail broke almost completely off
. I went to a local guitar shop in search of a solution. They had Rico nails, which didn't appeal to me for various reasons. But they also had a Savarez nail repair kit, consisting of a strip of fine self-adhesive silk, glue, a wooden spreader and a small foam-block abrasive pad. I actually got it for free, since it was 3 years old, and well past the expiration date. (The glue was hardened and no good.) The shop owner told me it was really just super glue. He said he didn't like using this kit much because the super glue would run all over, get under your nails and on your skin, etc.
So I took the free kit, and went to Home Depot to get some glue. There I found
a gel-type super glue, which seemed like it might overcome the runny-glue problems. Knowing a bit about glue and the importance of the surface being clean from my woodworking experience, I cleaned my nail with 91% isopropyl alcohol, and proceeded to add 3 layers of silk. I put the first silk piece directly on the nail, leaving it a little long so I could trim and shape it better. I then applied the gel super glue on top of the silk, spreading it evenly with the little wooden stick that came in the kit, making sure to spread it carefully around the edge of the silk and onto the adjacent part of the nail. I let that dry a few minutes, then stuck on another layer of silk and spread more glue on that, followed again by a third layer after a few minutes. After letting the repair dry for about 15 minutes, I then filed and sanded it to shape and - Voila! The repaired nail was stronger than the original, and had a fine sound - maybe even better than before.
Since then I have had several nails break or crack, and have repaired all of them this way, although I generally only use two layers of silk now. I normally use only a narrow strip near the tip - maybe extending about 1/4" back from the tip. The beauty of it: it only takes about 10 minutes total; the nail is stronger and if anything better sounding than my "unvarnished" nail; it feels completely normal, after I sand and polish it with very fine (1000 grit) sandpaper. I can't tell any difference when I am playing. And it even looks almost completely normal. Also, in spite of what some others have said in other threads about nail repairs, done correctly, with the cleaning being key, the repairs are more or less permanent - i.e., until the nail grows out enough that I wind up filing off all of the repaired section. The only time they have come off prematurely is when I got lazy once or twice and didn't clean the nail with alcohol first. And in those cases the repair came off in one piece and I was able to simply glue it back on again with more super glue.
Now, the Savarez kit is a little pricey: I have seen it advertised on web sites for anywhere from $25 to $35. But happily you don't need to buy this kit, because self-adhering silk is inexpensive and readily available at various beauty supply and manicurist-oriented web sites (ex: 2 yard strip for $2.98 on http://www.nailliteinc.com
), and the gel-type super glue is only a couple of bucks at HD.
Bottom line: I now rest easy not worrying about breaking or cracking nails, and I am considering reinfocing all my RH nails with this technique to make them stonger, to compensate for my poor nail shape, and because they seem to sound better, esp. my i and m nails, which curl over and don't sound the notes well for me. So I no longer have to be satisfied with my natural nail shape and curve - You can almost totally reshape your nail to an optimum shape which is stronger than most natural nails, to boot.
Don't know why more folks don't use this solution. Works great for me!